Vitae Aeternum: New World through the eyes of an Elder Scrolls Online and EVE Online player

New World is full of beauty and enjoyment - but also questionable design

    
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New World

When I heard that Amazon Game Studios was releasing an MMO, my plan was to watch from the sidelines until such time that all the bugs were worked out and all the hype had died down. I hadn’t followed the New World pre-release news especially closely, and the early streams I saw did not strike me as overly interesting. But as the fateful day approached, I fell victim to the dreaded FOMO, the bane of every gamer.

It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced an MMO launch day. Not since The Elder Scrolls Online in 2014 have I battled the dreaded starter area masses competing for quests and resources. Truth is, lately I’ve been a bit burned out on the fantasy genre, as evidenced by recent forays into Elite Dangerous and EVE Online. Could New World once again ignite the spark that drew me into fantasy MMOs? While the jury is still out on that specific question, I did find much in New World that piques my interest, and I’d like to talk about that in this edition of Vitae Aeternum.

New World

With the distance of seven years and the benefit of rose-colored glasses, I do not remember waiting in a queue to play ESO, but I very well may have. One thing is for sure, I’ll remember the queues in the first week of New World!

On day one, I was somehow fortunate to create a character on the server most of my MOP cohorts had settled on. Shortly after, the queues started up, and I was unable to log into that character for another full week. So, I rolled on one of the new servers Amazon spun up to handle the overflow and was able to “practice” on that server until the queues settled down again.

I can’t add much to the queue conversation that hasn’t already been mentioned except to say that I still don’t completely understand the rationale of going with separate worlds instead of mega-servers. Maybe there was some reason behind that decision that Amazon is not sharing, but it seems like a regressive step in MMOs and one that may have contributed to the queue nightmare that dominated headlines for much of the game’s first week.

Once inside the game, I was treated to a stunning visual and audio experience. The sound effects, particularly, stood out as a stellar sonic treat. Distant gunshots echo through the woods. The distinct tink, tink, tink of a pickaxe striking metal deposits fills the air. A tree can be heard falling nearby. In town, a merry little tune that reminds me of my time in the LOTRO Shire plays in the background as crowds gather around crafting stations and trade hubs. Even the crafting sounds are distinct and satisfying.

As far as eye candy goes, orange sunsets illuminate particles floating among the tree branches, shadows of clouds pass along the ground, and logged trees fall to the ground after being chopped off at the base. New World makes an astounding first impression even when compared to other modern MMOs.

Questing uses standard MMO mechanics. Much of it relies on the hub-and-spoke design, with quest-givers concentrated mostly in cities settlements. While many of the combat mechanics are reminiscent of the Elder Scrolls Online, the questing, in particular, does not feel as organic or linear. ESO excels at feeding the player breadcrumbs along the way; New World questing feels much more old-school by comparison.

New World also borrows the Bethesda staple of allowing the player to discover pages of lore books throughout the world to lend exposition to quest lines and area lore. However, pages in New World are not tucked away into safe areas to allow players to peruse the text at their leisure, as they usually are in Elder Scrolls and Fallout titles. Often, the lore books are placed smack-dab in the middle of a mob spawn, making it difficult to consume the extra information.

The combat in New World is essentially the same as the combat in Elder Scrolls Online. There are small differences, such as the elimination of race and class abilities, but by and large, it’s identical, or at least heavily borrowed from the groundbreaking action combat adapted from the single-player Elder Scrolls series into MMO form.

However, with only three active abilities per skill bar, New World requires even more repetitive mouse clicking than ESO. Limiting the weapon skills to three does allow New World to take advantage of keys Q, R, and F instead of the first five number keys that ESO uses by default. This puts all weapon abilities within proximity of the movement keys, resulting in even better combat flow and faster access to skills. The trade-off is fewer skills and less in-combat complexity than in past MMOs.

As an ESO player and one of MOP’s own ESO columnists, I frequently found myself reaching beyond the “R” key in order to hit the more familiar “4,” which only resulted in my character enjoying a hearty snack while absorbing a flurry of enemy blows. Simple attacks and blocks are identical to ESO’s, while dodging is limited to the “shift” key instead of the more engaging double-direction tap from ESO. Much of the PvP and PvE combat success seems to hinge on the weapon combination, as currently, some weapons appear to be much stronger than others.

New World

Crafting in New World is still a bit of a mystery to me. Not that it’s difficult to understand how to craft; I’m just struggling with why you should craft. This feeling is complicated by the fact that it’s an enjoyable pastime. Even fishing, which I typically avoid like the plague, has been designed in such a way that feels both rewarding and engaging.

But beyond the pure satisfaction of being able to make your first set of iron tools, the purpose of crafting eludes me. My experience thus far has been to level gathering to the point that you can craft a few green on-level items, which will soon be replaced by a better world drop or quest reward.

The economy for crafted gear also appears to be non-existent, at least at the low-to-mid levels. MMOs like EVE Online have long since cracked the crafting/economy code by ensuring that PvP results in destructible items, driving a constant demand for more of these machines of war to be created by players. But with gear and weapons that are easily repairable, where will the demand for continued crafting come from? Once everybody has uber gear of uberness, what keeps the market moving? So, while I’m still reserving judgment for the moment, I’m not entirely convinced that this incredibly robust (and fun) crafting system that Amazon has created will have any long-term value.

I could spend a section in this column on PvP, but I won’t because I haven’t done any PvP. In fact, I probably won’t do any PvP. Honestly, I don’t need to. I’m finding plenty of enjoyment wandering around the world, uncovering new weapon skills, following the storyline, and gathering materials. Whatever design decisions Amazon has made that I find of-putting, it’s succeeded in creating a beautiful, enjoyable, and affordable MMO and that fact shouldn’t be overlooked.

New World’s Aeternum is a land of many secrets. In MassivelyOP’s Vitae Aeternum, our writers delve those secrets to provide you with in-depth coverage of all things New World through launch and beyond.
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Mark
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Mark

On key bindings – swap E and R.

Your welcome :)

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r00ch

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and impressions!

I felt like I didn’t understand the need for crafting gear until I discovered what gear mods and azoth could bring to the table. I had a bunch of dexterity mods in my storage (who knows what they dropped from) and crafted a full set of dexterity armor. OMG the difference in damage output was insane, and incredibly fun. I had no idea how much I could boost a single stat just from a gear mod.

Before my first dungeon, I decided to tank. So I crafted gear with gem slots. This is a HUGE deal because certain skills are altered by gems. For example, there are skills in both the sword and shield and hammer skill trees that gain taunt if you add a specific gem (carnelian in this case). So I went into my first dungeon with a build that had many more threat and aggro tools than I originally thought possible.

Because of this, I started searching the market for good deals on level 3 gear with gem slots – you can tell some players have discovered the value of gem slots because the prices were insane. So the market is there but maybe not very relevant until level 25+. Even then you don’t need to craft because you can easily get by on what you drops you find. I’m level 26, so I can’t speak for anything beyond that.

And like you, I haven’t done any PvP, so I don’t even know what PvP players are looking for on the market, let alone trying to craft.

But it has been so fun to walk around the overworld in my tank gear (built with strength/constitution mods), scooping up 5-6 enemies and just burning ’em down all by tanky self. Is it necessary? No. Is it ridiculously fun. YES.

Also, I agree that it’s a nice little touch in ESO that they give you a safe place to read lore, hadn’t really thought how nice that is till you mentioned it. In NW you just grab that shit and run and hope you remember to read it later. I love little bits of lore tho, and I’m just happy they exist at all.

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Asif Kazmi

As much as I like ESO in theory, and I’ve bought all the expansions and played from the beginning, I always uninstall it after a few weeks because:

The combat is terrible.

I’m not litterate enough about combat mechanics to explain why, but New World has great combat. The audiovisual cues, pacing, and combat styles/animations are wonderful. I’m enjoying NW for that reason a lot.

I am curious about the crafting. I hope someone with an economics or statistics degreee can explain to me how it is sustainable. As far as I can see, since you can repair stuff and the game is not alt-friendly (you can play as anything with one character), what need is there for crafting once everyone has everything? Even FFXIV which doesn’t need alts, does require you to obtain armor and weapons again as you level up a new class.

bels
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bels

I think the differences between NW’s combat and ESO are noticeable. Cooldowns, being stuck on animations (without being able to cancel them), and not being able to break out of various forms of crowd control come to mind.

I enjoy both, but NW’s combat takes a lot of control over your character away, comparatively.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I find that lack of animation cancelling makes me change the way I play, in a good way. With animation cancelling, I can spam the crap out of buttons to get off the ability I need to. Without animation cancelling, spamming buttons works at the lower levels but at the higher levels when dodging and blocking gets more important, I find myself being a lot more patient.

I *know* I need to be able to dodge that bear swipe attack, so I’ll wait to see him start the animation do my double dodge and evade, then unleash my abilities while flanking, then wait until he comes at me again. But if I spam my left attack and I’m stuck in the middle of the animation, we’ll I’m taking a bear claw to the face. repeatedly.

That’s not to say that its better or worse than any other system, but I *like* how it makes me play differently.

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Ir1shguy

Totally agree, the lack of animation cancelling removes skill-less button mashing and promotes actual thinking on the fly.

bels
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bels

I know some people absolutely hate animation cancelling, but I’ve never understood why or how that could lead to a description of ESO’s combat as “skill-less button mashing.”

Most of what I did back when I used to play ESO was BGs. There was a lot of thinking on the fly in there (it was fast paced), and not a lot of button mashing (resources were scarce).

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Ir1shguy

I didnt mention ESO was just replying to Andy’s comment, I agree with their comment not yours.

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Munchmeat2

I know some people absolutely hate animation cancelling, but I’ve never understood why or how that could lead to a description of ESO’s combat as “skill-less button mashing.”

I’m a ESO vet and these people that claim that ESO is mindless button mashing don’t know what they’re talking about. ESO combat has a lot depth actually and there are tons of build options. New World on the other hand has some of the most shallow skill trees I’ve seen in a MMO. The combat is hot garbage too. I’m telling you, a lot of people are in the honeymoon phase for this game at the moment. Lets see what people are saying in a few months from now.

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Meanie

Whether that is true or not, it is for sure a fact that ESO released as a far stinkier pile of hot garbage than NW did. It’s by the grace of being the MMO for such a massive IP that it had ample time to reach the point it has. I think ESO’s combat is interesting and engaging but it feels bad, animation-canceling included.

With NW’s base combat having (IMO) a much better feel to it than ESO, I think AGS may be able to work out some of the weird kinks and fill out the combat with more nuance and intricacy given some time as well.

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Munchmeat2

New World’s combat isn’t going to carry the game though. This game is devoid of content, lore, interesting stories ect…

People are in a serious honeymoon phase with this game at the moment. I don’t see how they can fix this game while trying to keep adding content for level capped players. There are still a ton of bugs that existed since alpha that haven’t been fixed yet and people expect AGS to pump out years of content in a matter of a few content patches?

This game needed like 3 more years of development.

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Bruno Brito

ESO combat is so “skillful”, that every patch cycle, a extremely broken build dominates PvP because animation cancelling forces the game to be balanced around burst windows of two or more hits beating you in a split second.

The reason why ESO has terrible issues with sustain is because sustain has to account for the animation cancel.

Now, can ESO combat be able to provide you builds that are absolutely a joy to play and pretty skillful? For sure. But let’s not pretend that Dizzying Swing spam, jabspam, pet sorc and werewolf were any kind of skillful showing, please.

As for NW combat…it’s a PvP combat through and through. It feels good in PvP if you like slower paced/more tactical combat.

It’s fucking dogshit in PvE.

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Munchmeat2

Dude, I’ve read your posts for years on here. Do you even like to game anymore? All I see from you is angry ranting anymore. Maybe it’s time to find a new hobby?

Sorry for the personal attack here, but I’m just tired of the hostile responses from several posters that hang out here at Massively.

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Bruno Brito

Now, can ESO combat be able to provide you builds that are absolutely a joy to play and pretty skillful? For sure.

If all you’re taking from me is “angry ranting”, then i would urge you to actually read my posts. I’m a harsh critic of everything i play because i’m terrified of becoming a Joe Blobers. Which to be honest, is something no one should want to be.

As for me enjoying gaming, yes? I can’t criticize things i enjoy now? I’m not into copium, sorry.

Tizmah
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Tizmah

The hate for NW is off the charts at Massively lol. I guess people who enjoy story can’t take it being successful?

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Dug From The Earth

Just FYI, there is animation canceling for some things, most people just havent figured it out yet.

For example, you can animation cancel out of the slight “root” that happens when you dodge roll, by swapping weapons at the same time. This allows someone to actually move faster reliably by dodge rolling (and is a big reason many insist on going light armor builds)

I do agree with your principle though. I dislike animation canceling because it feels like work that wasnt intended, work that you have to continue to do to stay competitive.

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Bruno Brito

Roll roll pulls hatchet pulls great axe charge roll roll pulls hatchet pulls great axe charge roll roll

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angrakhan

One of the “why”‘s behind crafting is access to instances. Every time you run an instance you’re going to need a tuning orb for the instance. To make the orb you need stonecutters. Some of the mats for the orb are bind on pickup. The orb itself is bind on pickup. You can hope someone else is always going to show up with an orb to start the instance, but if you don’t want to rely on others then you’re going to have to get your stonecutting up yourself.

For me as a tank I MUST HAVE a carnelian gem slotted in my weapons to enable taunts and increase threat generation above the healer and DPS. I think at end game people will figure out non-tanks need these too as they lower threat when slotted in armor. If you’re pulling ago off the tank either one or both of you doesn’t have the gem slotted.

Personally I don’t want to rely on others to provide those gems. I have yet to see any for sale on the trade stations.

Cooking has clear benefits both in reduction of down time and improved gathering from the luck food. There’s also food that improves stats which I bet will be required end game for speed runs and PvP.

Arcane is necessary to clear corruption and having health and mana potions can save your hide in a pinch.

I agree that there’s not a lot of point in armor and weapon crafting, but the rest of it is beneficial at the least and downright required depending on your goals in the game.

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r00ch

Just made a comment about the amazing carnelian gems for tanks, should have read your comment first!

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Meanie

The weapon and armor crafting will likely come down to the need for exact armor/weapon sets (craft mods, gem slots, stat specifics, etc). I still don’t know why the gear sets don’t degrade since there is no drop on death or anything…I also think the time to get crafting high enough to compete with dropped gear requires funneling a set of people for one specific crafting line, otherwise you will not be able to keep up until way later down the line it seems

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Solaris

Good article. On the topic of combat, I think NW combat is more visceral than ESOs. There is something profoundly enjoyable about NW’s Dark Souls like combat. It’s something I want to see more of in MMOs. I never want to play a tab target MMO again.

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Bruno Brito

New World’s entire gearing should have been made by crafting. Quests should gift you crafting mats, not items. Low level crafting is honestly useless, and it’s a ordeal to get to the high levels.

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Munchmeat2

The crafting system and the way it is designed is a hold over from the full loot PVP game this game originally started out as.

The game is flooded with gear at the moment from drops. I think the economy is already borked for good.

A lot of people are starting to realize that this game is pretty half baked at this point. I didn’t make it past level 30, because of the serious design flaws in the game is keeping me from investing time in this mess.

New World is basically the Amazon Basics of MMOs at this point.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

That’s why there’s gear though, for folks who can’t keep up crafting as they level or folks who don’t want to engage as much with crafting. It’s a negative for them in the longrun if they avoid crafting altogether, but it’s at least not progress-stopping since they can still get gear from some quest rewards.

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Bruno Brito

I feel that the fact this game has levels works against it’s concept of being a prolongated crafting game.